Author Topic: A Good Hunt (AU)  (Read 56 times)

Jo Winchester

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A Good Hunt (AU)
« on: June 23, 2012, 02:36:33 PM »
Basements were fine. Crypts were fine. Mausoleums and cellars? Absolutely perfect. Anything further underground than that, and Nim got edgy. So given that they were traversing the sewer system underneath the hospital in Wichita by this point on little to no sleep, she was in an even worse mood than before. Despite Dean trying to insist that she sleep in the car on the way back to the city, she'd stayed stubbornly awake, refusing to be sensible while he was being an a$$.

It had taken only a few minutes to deliver Jonah back to the baby unit, much to the relief of the nurse who had loaned him out in the first place, and once that was done, it was time to search for the dead Witschatska's lair. The storage room in the basement of the hospital had concealed a tunnel down here into the putrifying stench of the sewers. Fighting down natural panic at being so far underground, Nim's eyes narrowed as the beam of her flashlight suddenly focused entirely too close in front of her again. She prodded Dean's back pointedly. "You're in front of me, again."

Dean had found himself missing the little guy he'd dubbed Junior, even though he wasn't theirs. They'd only spent a few hours together, but those hours had seemed like days, and he almost felt like they'd bonded during that time. Their little family of three that wasn't really a family at all. It was stupid, and he knew it, but he couldn't help the feeling of regret when it was time to hand the little guy back. He'd grown quiet after that, sullen, even more so than usual. He couldn't remember the last time he'd slept or eaten anything, but the hunt was in the final stretch. He promised himself that once it was over and all the kids had been safely returned to their parents, he was going to eat the biggest goddamned cheeseburger he could get his hands on and sleep for at least three days. But he didn't want to think about that now. Now, he had to focus on what they were doing because if he didn't, there was a good chance they wouldn't find those kids alive.

Subterranean dwellings didn't bother him much. Darkness, small spaces, it was all the same to him, so long as he had his trusty flashlight and a gun at the ready. Like her, cellars, crypts, basements, mausoleums, tombs - it was all the same to him. But a smelly sewer with the possibility of rats and other vermin he didn't want to think about running around, that was another matter. He wasn't afraid of much, but rats were somewhere on his top ten list of things to avoid.

"Jesus, should have brought a clothespin for my nose," he complained, wrinkling his nose at the smell while he swept the light across his path, coming to a full stop when he hear something skittering nearby, feeling her bump into his back. "Did you hear that?" he asked.

Gritting her teeth for what had to be the hundredth time in the last twenty-four hours, Nim forced herself not to snap at the man standing deliberately in her path. Her own light swept downward to the trickle of filthy water pouring down the center of the tunnel in which they stood, highlighting the source of that skittering sound.

"Rats, Dean," she muttered. "It's a sewer. There are gonna be rats. Will you keep moving already?"

"Rats... why's it have to be rats?" he quoted Indiana Jones, substituting the rats for snakes. He thought about using the rats for target shooting, but thought better of it. "You ever see Ben? That movie was creepy. Who the hell has a rat for a pet?" He moved slowly forward, keeping a careful watch on the rats that were skittering about nearby, who were more than likely more terrified of him than he was of them.

"You can calmly strangle a guy with two faces, but a rat scares you?" Nim couldn't quite believe what she was hearing, though she kept her amused voice low enough that the sound of her speech didn't travel the length of the tunnel. The skittering of the animals running nearby kept a smirk on her face as they crept further into the darkness, until suddenly she realized she could hear something else above the skittering of claws and trickle of water. "Wait," she whispered, reaching out to touch her hand to Dean's back. "Can you hear crying?"

"I shot him first!" Dean pointed out. When given the choice, he'd always choose a gun over any other weapon. He often felt like he'd been shooting a gun most of his life, having first learned at the tender age of six. He was a natural, his father had said, and he'd felt a surge of pride. He'd spent the rest of his life trying to please the man and always feeling like he came up short somehow.

"Crying?" Dean echoed, thinking he could hear the thudding of his own heart in his chest, along with the skittering of claws, and he had to force himself not to shudder. He turned his head to listen harder, past the silence and the dripping water and the rats. There was something, somewhere. He'd missed it at first, but now that she pointed it out, he knew there was definitely something else down there with them. "Yeah, but... which way?"

She stepped up beside him, the beam of her flashlight sweeping along the wall to their left, revealing the dark cavity in the brickwork that opened into a tunnel that had obviously not been made by the city officials. The jagged opening stank of blood and straw. Nim tensed, glancing up at Dean. "I'm guessing ... that way."

The beam from his flashlight followed hers, converging on that irregular tunnel that had obviously not been an original part of the sewer. He wrinkled his nose again as he identified the stench of blood and straw mixed with the usual fetid odors of the underground complex. "Jesus Christ," he muttered. "Remind me to burn my clothes when we're done." Rats or no rats, he started that way, swinging the beam of the light to illuminate his path, taking the lead, Nim just behind him.

"Only if you burn mine, too," she murmured, falling into place at his back. She held her flashlight at the level of her jaw, her other hand flicking the safety off the Beretta she still held. Dean still had her Glock, with its consecrated ammunition, but with any luck, a shot from the Beretta would at least slow down anything that might be lurking in the lair. She didn't think there was anything in there but some very hungry babies, but it didn't hurt to be cautious.

"What the hell kind of... thing... kidnaps babies and leaves them stranded in a sewer?" It was a rhetorical question as they already had their answer to that. The thing had said, however, that it was only one of many, and that made Dean wary, worried there might be more of them down here guarding their treasure. On instinct, he pulled the Glock from his jacket, just in case. He'd forgotten to switch weapons, but a gun was a gun, and this one was still loaded with consecrated iron rounds.

"Following orders, maybe?" Nim shrugged, her voice low as they moved from the relative safety and space of the main sewer into the closer quarters of the narrower tunnel. The ground was uneven beneath their feet, the walls of thie new tunnel almost too close together for even a single person to walk comfortably along, much less two together.

She peered into the darkness, pausing a moment longer as the sound that had alerted them in the first place repeated itself, more clearly now. It was definitely the sound of newborn crying, and not just one voice, either. At least two of the kidnapped babies were still alive, it seemed.
[size=9:e7ee19851d][color=darkblue:e7ee19851d][i:e7ee19851d][b:e7ee19851d]Remember the quiet wonders. The world has more need of them than it has for warriors.[/b:e7ee19851d][/i:e7ee19851d][/color:e7ee19851d][/size:e7ee19851d]

Jo Winchester

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Re: A Good Hunt (AU)
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2012, 02:41:28 PM »
The sound of crying was both encouraging and disturbing at the same time. Dean slowly made his way through the narrow passage, hoping he wouldn't get stuck. "Be careful," he told her quietly, stating the obvious, lowering his voice in case they weren't alone down there. At one point, he had to move sideways in order to squeeze himself through, and he wondered how the hell the monster had managed, unless there was another entry way at some point that they hadn't stumbled on yet.

For once, his stating the obvious didn't grate on her nerves. She didn't even respond, reaching out to encourage him to put his flashlight into his pocket. She could provide the light for now; he had the only effective weapon between them. Ahead, as the sound of crying grew louder, it became clear that the tunnel was going to open onto a wider space, one that was lit, however dimly. "I should have gone first," she murmured against his shoulder, muffling her voice deliberately. "Distraction tactic."

"So long as I don't get stuck," he grumbled, pushing his way through the small passage, gritting his teeth as a sharp edge scraped against his back. "Lucky for me I haven't had any donuts." He grunted his way along, pausing a moment to tuck the flashlight away in his pocket when he realized there was light up ahead, however dim. "You're not..." Another pause as he let out a breath to squeeze through a particularly tight spot. "...distracting it." Well, obviously. Not anymore, anyway, since he was in the lead.

"Obviously." Nim's voice was terse, tense, clearly unhappy at the thought of him putting himself in danger for the third time in twenty-four hours. The tunnel was giving her very little trouble in comparison to him, but then, she was quite a small person as size went. "Plan?" she murmured, her voice even quieter as they approached the far opening of the little throughway they were travelling.

"Hell if I know," he replied, becoming more and more irritated the longer they spent in the sewer and in particular, that tunnel. Sam would never have made it. The thought of that rekindled a familiar sense of grief and loss, but he brushed it quickly aside. He'd think about that later. Assuming there was a later. "Shoot first, ask questions later?" he asked, trying to keep his voice low.

Nim smirked faintly, not knowing the turn of his thoughts. She could sense they were close to the end of the hunt, and that exhilarated her. Even if there was another Witschatska waiting for them, they knew how to kill it now. "Works for me," she agreed softly, tucking her own flashlight away now they had reached that far opening. "Got your back."

"I just hope they're alive," he muttered quietly, mostly to himself, frowning at the thought of finding any of them dead. What was the point of hunting if you couldn't save those who needed your help? In the end, this was why he did what he did. Oh, sure, it was partly because he'd been raised in the life and partly because he got an adrenaline rush from it, but deep down that wasn't the real reason he chose to do what he did. It was what he'd told his brother all those years ago - hunting things, saving people. That's what he did and what he'd always do.

"Here goes nothing," he told her quietly as he pushed himself through the final few feet of the tunnel and stumbled out into the open.

Lurching after him, Nim burst out of the little opening with a stumble of her own, her gun at the ready ... and stared. They had lurched into a small cave, seemingly carved out of the bedrock of the city, lit with the natural bioluminescence of the fungus that crept like slime over the walls. In here, the sounds of screaming babies was much louder, as it would be. Against the wall nearest to Dean, a long nest-like structure had been created out of what looked like old rags and straw, and within that nest, six newborn babies were nestled, all still wrapped in the hospital's blankets. Near to Nim was another, more adult-sized nest, evidently created from the same materials but held together with blood. It was from there that the stench rose primarily, yet alongside it was tethered a live goat. A small table held diapers and empty feeding bottles.

Nim grimaced as she looked around. "This is sick."

He would have turned to catch her, but he was too busy gawking at his surroundings. "Son of a bitch," he muttered to himself again. "What the hell..." He turned in place, gaze moving over everything - it was like something out of a horror movie, but then, it was all just part of an ordinary day in the life of a hunter.

"We have to get them out of here," Dean remarked, stating the obvious once again, sounding bone weary. Hunting monsters and saving people was one thing, but things that preyed on helpless babies disturbed him. And what were they going to do with a goat, for God's sake?

Nim was staring more at the goat than anything. She couldn't quite reconcile the monster they'd killed with a creature who could keep an animal alive and well fed enough to provide a growing number of newborns with nourishment. Dean's voice snapped her out of her contemplation of that, a slow nod taking her head.

"You're right," she murmured with a frown, scanning the rest of the little cave. "There's gotta be another way ... there!" She pointed to a dark recess across from them, wider than the way in which they had arrived. A faint breeze was blowing from it. "That's gotta be another way in."

He wasn't sure when the last time was that the babies had been fed, but he knew it had to be before he'd killed the thing and that meant it had been at least a few hours, give or take. No wonder they were crying. They were probably famished. They all probably needed a good bath, as well. Taking care of one baby was one thing; six was quite another.

"How are we supposed to rescue six kids and a goat?" he asked, not to mention doing it without getting arrested for babynapping. He moved further into the cave to take a better look around, fairly confident they were alone there and that no more Witschatskas were going to attack them. "Looks better than the way we came in," he agreed, gaze sliding to where she was pointing. It made sense that there was another way in; there was no way they were getting those kids out the way they'd arrived.

Frowning, Nim didn't like the way her thoughts were going. "You're not gonna like this idea," she warned her partner, pulling her flashlight free of her pocket to shine the beam into the wider tunnel. "We can't take all these kids out into the city without getting picked up. I say we find out where this way comes out, get the kids and the ... goat ... up there, and drop an anonymous tip to the cops." She winced, just waiting for Dean to snap at her as he had done at almost every suggestion in the last few hours.

She was right. He didn't like that idea. He especially didn't like the idea of leaving the kids out in the open where anyone could stumble on them - including rats and other vermin - and hurt them, but she did have a point. They couldn't very well just pack up the lot of them and go drop them off at the Lost and Found.

"What if we get them changed and fed and leave them here, then call the cops? We could give them directions on how to get down here. That way, they'll know this place is here and they can... I don't know. Watch it or something. Set up surveillance in case there are more." He wasn't sure if she'd like his idea, which was really just taking her own idea one step further.

The sound of crying babies was starting to grate on his nerves, the way the sound of crying babies was designed to, and what disturbed him further was the fact that a few of them had stopped crying, as though they were too weak to cry anymore or had just given up. "We can't leave them here and we can't take them with us," he was thinking out loud again, and as he did so, he shoved the Glock back into his jacket and started toward the cache of newborns.

Nim's frown cleared a little, preferring his version of her idea. "Better," she agreed with a nod, glancing back at him with a relieved smile touching her face. "I'm just gonna take a quick look down here - I'm not going far," she added quickly, before he could object. "I just want to be sure." Once they were sure, they could settle the kids and call the cops from the sewer. They'd probably get away easy via the hospital, too.

He swung his gaze back at her, narrowing his eyes in warning, his expression betraying his concern at the thought of her going off on her own, but he brooked no argument. "Just be careful," he warned. "And call me if you need me," he added as an afterthought, hoping she knew that already but voicing it anyway.

She couldn't hide the surprised pleasure in her smile at his concession. Just one concession, and he'd managed to claw back into her good books, as evidenced by the warmth in her gaze. "I promise," she assured him, stepping into the darkness. The sweep of her flashlight betrayed her progress as she moved away.
[size=9:e7ee19851d][color=darkblue:e7ee19851d][i:e7ee19851d][b:e7ee19851d]Remember the quiet wonders. The world has more need of them than it has for warriors.[/b:e7ee19851d][/i:e7ee19851d][/color:e7ee19851d][/size:e7ee19851d]

Jo Winchester

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Re: A Good Hunt (AU)
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2012, 02:47:59 PM »
He grumbled to himself, not really happy about letting her go off exploring on her own, but silently reassuring himself that she wasn't a child. She was a full-grown adult and a capable hunter. If they were going to be partners, they were going to have to trust each other, and he wasn't going to be able to watch over her twenty-four hours a day. He bit his tongue against the caustic remark that was threatening to arise, instead focusing his attention on the little cache of crying children.

He swung his gaze back toward the goat, grimacing as he realized that before they could provide sustenance, someone had to milk the damned thing. He sighed again, wondering if they shouldn't just call the cops and be done with it. He glanced at his watch. It would be daylight soon, and he wanted to be gone from here long before that.

"Nim?" he called, realizing it was probably better just to call the cops and get the hell out of Dodge.

As promised, she hadn't gone far - just far enough to be sure that they were completely alone. This tunnel was wider, yes, but dirtier, slimier. It was obvious why the Witschatska had dug a new entryway for itself beyond the convenience. She heard Dean calling to her, stepping back into view within moments, her flashlight low at her side. "Yeah?"

It wasn't easy for him to admit that maybe he was wrong. He wasn't sure why he was delaying the inevitable. Maybe he was missing Junior more than he cared to admit, or maybe it was just hunger and exhaustion setting in. "It'll take too long to feed them all. I think maybe we should just call the cops," he admitted, turning to face her, the weariness on his face apparent, the hunt finally taking its toll.

It was a shock, to see the exhaustion suddenly written stark on his face, the transition so abrupt that she lurched toward him, an arm outstretched as though he were about to collapse right there. Dark eyes held his gaze, echoing the weariness, though she was in better shape than him. "Are you sure?" she asked him quietly, knowing he'd be hell to be around if he didn't make this decision fully for himself.

"Yeah, I'm sure. The cops will know what to do. They can take it from here. We don't need them breathing down our necks." He let her slide an arm around him. Now that the monster was dead and they'd found the missing babies, they could both relax, let the authorities do what they did best. The hunt was over for now, and the adrenaline rush was gone, leaving only exhaustion.

She was there, ready to let him lean on her as her arm curved about his back, the other hand tucking her gun away once again. "Back through the hospital?" she asked softly, her fingers tucking into her pocket to pull her phone out, coaxing it back to life in the hope of having a signal down here.

He leaned into her a little, exhaustion trumping pride. "Yeah," he replied, not really looking forward to retracing their steps through the small passageway and back through the sewers. The breeze from the opening on the other side of the cave was tempting, but he wasn't sure where they'd end up, and it was probably safer to go back the way they'd come. "I hate leaving them here, but it's probably better this way."

"The far tunnel's blocked with a grid that Witsa-whatsit could probably move easy, but no one else could," she offered by way of reassurance, turning to steer him gently back toward the narrow tunnel they had entered through. She was no happier leaving the babies herself, but they had to get them help somehow, and getting picked up by the cops was not on the to-do list for today. The crying was beginning to give her a headache, too. "Sooner we're back in the sewer, sooner we can call, and sooner the cops'll be here."

He nodded grimly in agreement. He wasn't sure why, but he didn't have his usual sense of accomplishment at a job well done that was the norm after a hunt. Maybe it was just the weariness. Maybe sleep would help. Or getting laid or fed or drunk. One of the above or all of the above? He swung a final glance at the babies, the sound of their crying starting to grate on his nerves. "Think we're doing the right thing?"

She sighed softly. "I think we're doing the only thing we can do," she admitted quietly, slipping out from under his arm to urge him into the little passageway. "They're all alive, they're all here, the thing's dead, and the cops'll block up this entrance to the hospital." And we're so dead on our feet, we're gonna do more harm than good if we don't get some sleep soon.

"We did a good job, right?" he asked, letting her take the lead, too weary to argue now that they were finished. It was a question he was always asking himself, always trying to remind himself that, despite their methods, they were the good guys. Though they might not receive any thanks, any reward, any credit, any glory, they were doing a necessary job that needed to be done. After all, someone had to do it. "You know... I once told you that no one in their right mind chooses this life, but... that was a lie."

"We did a good job." She wasn't sure about that, but he needed to hear it. Slipping into the passage, she pulled him after her, taking her time to make sure she didn't end up scraping him along the walls behind her. There was a sense of something at the edge of her weary perception, of eyes on them that were more approving than hostile, though no more welcome for that sense. Dean's voice cut through her contemplation of that, her flashlight snapping on as she blinked back to the immediacy of their reality in those minutes. "Yeah?" she asked softly, glancing back to make sure he was okay as she came out into the sewer.

He scraped through the passage behind her, the sound of the crying growing fainter as they got farther away. For some reason, that bothered him, almost feeling as if they were abandoning those in need, though he knew they were doing the right thing. He'd made sure of it before they left, make sure the cops listened to their story and arrived to find the babies and rescue them. The scrapes and cuts encountered in the passageway were nothing, numbness settling in, the adrenalin worn off.

"Yeah..." he replied as he followed her out to emerge into the sewer, pausing a moment to catch his breath, as fetid as the air was in there. "I chose this life. I could have had normal, but... The truth is I'll never be happy with normal. I'm a hunter. It's all I am, it's all I'll ever be." He wasn't sure why he was telling her that. A warning maybe? Don't try to change me. This is who I am.

How could she convince him that she already knew that? There was nothing else in this world or any other that Dean could possibly be. He hadn't been born to hunting, but he'd taken to it as though it were what he had been born to, as though it had always been his destiny. That urge, that drive to protect complete strangers from the horrors they couldn't even imagine ... it was a part of him, and Nim couldn't imagine ever wanting that to change. Yes, he was going to infuriate her; they were going to annoy each other. But she wouldn't be here with him if she didn't know that feeling almost as well as he did.

Her hand fell to squeeze his for a moment, her dark eyes flickering over the little injuries that littered him, making a note to make sure he was clean and bandaged before she went to sleep. "I could have had normal, too," she reminded him quietly. "It's not what we are. But you're way more than just a hunter, Dean."

Giving him a gentle tug, she pressed the flashlight into his hand, tucking herself under his arm again as her eyes turned down to the phone in her hand, dialing the emergency line. She'd have to dump the SIM card immediately after, but that was an easy sacrifice; she had about a dozen spares in the Impala.

He squeezed her hand back, drawing comfort from that simple reassuring gesture. There were some many things she didn't know that he wanted her to know. He knew it wasn't perfect; he knew there were going to be bumps in the road, but no relationship was perfect, and wasn't learning to know and love each other what life was all about? At that moment, he wanted to open his heart to her, to tell her everything that was right there on the tip of his tongue, hinted at in his gaze, tucked safely away in his heart, but he didn't. It could wait a little bit longer.

Instead, he only leaned forward to brush a gentle, protective kiss against the top of her head, careful of the gash he'd awkwardly glued together only hours before. "Let's get out of here," he said, finally ready to put this chapter behind them and move forward.

She smiled faintly, falling into step with him through the fetid stink of the sewer. In less than an hour, these tunnels would be filled with policemen. Six newborn baby boys would be reunited with their heartbroken parents. And two very tired hunters would be settled in a new motel room, passed out on the first bed that came to hand. It might have been a textbook hunt; they might still have a lot to learn, not least about each other. But all in all ... it had been a good hunt.

[size=9]((Our heroes have saved the day! Took long enough, right? ::grins:: As always, thanks to Dean's player. Awesome hunt!))[/size]
[size=9:e7ee19851d][color=darkblue:e7ee19851d][i:e7ee19851d][b:e7ee19851d]Remember the quiet wonders. The world has more need of them than it has for warriors.[/b:e7ee19851d][/i:e7ee19851d][/color:e7ee19851d][/size:e7ee19851d]